Apparently this is an ancient ford. First recorded usage was by Spanish explorers and colonists under Jose de Escandon in 1740s on the Rio Grande. A salt trail led from here to El Sal del Rey (40 miles northeast). The ford was used by Mexican war troops, 1846; by Texas Rangers chasing cattle rustlers, 1874; by smugglers in many eras, especially during the American prohibition years, 1920s and '30s. The ferry and inspection station were established in 1950. Named for the ebony trees here, this is known as the only government-licensed, hand-pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States.